The Replacements

I was looking for my other pair of reading glasses when I found the picture. I had torn our bedroom apart, yelled at the kids and looked outside before finally deciding to dive into the dresser drawers – even though I knew they weren’t in there.

I sat down on the edge of the bed, the weight giving under me with a sigh. How long had it been since I had looked at that picture Months? A Year? Years? There used to be a time when I couldn’t go to bed at night without looking at it. When had that stopped? After my wife miscarried our first child, I think. She never knew about the picture. She was five months along when she lost the baby and our world(and relationship) came to a screeching halt. It took a long time to get both back on track.

I gently traced the outline of her body; brushed her hair. The smile beaming back at me brought tears to my eyes. I could smell her shampoo and the cherry Chapstick she always wore. I could hear her laugh; it was like champagne glasses being clinked together – gentle, high pitched, and always made you happy to hear.

She was the one. The one that I should’ve spent the rest of my life with. Instead? I killed her. I didn’t kill her myself, but I was the one that was driving the car when the drunk driver hit us head on.

We had a fight that night, and she was supposed to be staying over at my apartment, but decided she wanted to go home. She only lived across town – ten minutes tops – away from me. Maybe I was driving fast because I was angry. Maybe I was trying to be an asshole and wanted to scare her. Or maybe her words before we left my place scared me more than I admitted to myself: I think we should take a break. I feel like we’re always at each other’s throats for no reason. I love you and you love me, but maybe we should take a step back and see if this is what we both want.

I didn’t see the drunk driver weaving in the lanes in front of us. I didn’t see him hitting his breaks and then speeding up. I didn’t see it because I wasn’t paying attention. I was trying to be angry. I was breathing hard and kept tapping the steering wheel. I had turned up the radio when Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love came on so I wouldn’t hear her try to talk to me.

She tried to hold my hand, and I pushed her away. But looking back on it now, I’m not sure if she was trying to hold my hand or get my attention. The last word out of her mouth was a screaming NO, and I remember looking over at her bracing herself against the impact that was coming. Her arms straight and gripping the dash – I could see the muscles in her sun tanned arms. Her legs also straight out against the floor.

They said that the car in front of us had hit the center divider of the highway. It must’ve done at least two 360’s before slamming into us. I don’t remember any of that. I just remember waking up, and she was gone.

I love my wife, and I love my children. I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But this is not the life I was supposed to be living. This is the replacement life for the one that I destroyed.

I wrote this prompt for the Red Writing Hood. The prompt: Write a piece – 600 word limit – about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.

Comments

  1. Wow, Nat there you go again! I love when you wear your fiction hat.

  2. Omg! Everytime you write something so intense it makes me have goose bumps. And now this in my head and I just got the other one out about the boy. ahhh….Crazy. you are such an amazing writer. I never read books, but I would read yours!!
    Now how do I go to sleep???

    http://my3littleducks.blogspot.com/2011/02/glob-it-on-giveaway.html

  3. Oh those last two sentences. It's a good thing people can't read our thoughts.
    Great job with this prompt.

  4. First…I love that you wrote a fictional piece. You're so very good at it.

    Second…I love that you wrote from a man's perspective. Totally different.

    Third…I love that you sucker punched me with those last two lines.

    Awesome. Simply awesome.

  5. You're a fantastic writer, it's crazy to me that he's held on to that thought throughout his marriage, and it makes me wonder if he's been able to do that by making more of her and them then there really was(because they were fighting that night). I could feel his quilt though, great job.

  6. I also love that you did a man's perspective. Awesome job.

    Those last lines were intense, but I also adored this one: …:like champagne glasses being clinked together – gentle, high pitched, and always made you happy to hear.

  7. I was going to write about a sock that I lost, but found again after a little 'tiff' with a drawer.

    It was stuck … I got mad … tugged and pulled and eventually kicked it free.

    The drawer was busted up beyond repair. My big toe was broken.

    But, hey! I found my sock! It was stuck down the side of the drawer, thus causing the 'tiff'.

    But I would never have treated my subject with the same elegance and style as you did yours.

    Well done!

  8. Wow…pulled me right in to that one and had me all the way through. Seriously great writing.

  9. HonestConvoGal says:

    "Maybe I was trying to be an asshole and wanted to scare her." That is such good character introspection. I haven't read much of your fiction, but I like this piece. It's powerful. I also like the male POV. Nice job.

  10. MultitaskMumma says:

    I held my breath through the entire post. That was amazing.

  11. Pamela Gold says:

    Such a moving piece. Loss in a state of anger. So deep.

  12. so well written! loved it from the man's point of view. keep it up! would love to read more!

  13. Oooh, way to go with the male perspective! Nicely done.

    This entire story is fabulous, right up to the sucker punch at the end. Great job of getting into the character's psyche.

  14. Wow. So bittersweet. I can picture the crash. It was like seeing it in slow motion. Well written!

  15. This was so sad. I wasn't expecting that ending. You've woven a very interesting memory for this character. The fact it is a man makes it that much more interesting.

  16. That was a powerful piece of fiction. I got totally drawn in and was disappointed when I got to the end. I wanted to read more!

  17. The mad woman behind the blog says:

    The description of her laugh, the muscles in her sun tanned arms….love the richness of the details, how it slows down the reader to feel each word, each moment.
    Really beautiful and sad.

  18. Keep it up girl…i love when you do TRDC!

  19. wow, you really have a talent. I felt that heaviness in his soul.
    WOW.

  20. Great writing!!! This makes you want to keep learning about his new family vs the family he that he was supposed to have.

  21. As a man I can say that you did a nice job of framing it the way that we might have. I really liked this.

  22. Oh, how heartbreaking!

  23. Oh my… sad. Very sad.
    He carries so much guilt over something that wasn't his fault and he had very little control over.

    I love how you were able to be so descriptive too!

  24. moveovermarypoppins.com says:

    I love not only that it's a man, but a man looking for his reading glasses.

    And, as has been said, those last two lines get right to the core of it.

  25. Soge shirts says:

    Wow I really feel the mans pain, regret, and remorse in that piece. The part where she clutched his hand and he ignored it right before they get hit just jumps out. Pretty haunting.

  26. Karen Peterson says:

    So much heartbreak today. Nice description all around. The visual in the moments before the crash. The pain the narrator is still going through. This is good stuff.

  27. Well written! The loss and guilt.
    And the guilt of feeling "replacement" family.
    Very insightful.

  28. I don't know if I can saying anything other than… ::exhales loudly::

    Powerful piece. The imagery is amazing.

  29. I love that you wrote from a mans perspective! Just golden!

  30. The replacement family. How sad. How terribly sad.

    It makes me think of Castaway, when Tom Hanks' character comes back and sees Helen Hunt's character and she tells him he's the love of his life.

    Sigh.

  31. The Flying Chalupa says:

    Bam! I was sucked in. Powerful stuff and great ending. So, so sad. I think there are a lot of replacement families out there.

  32. Victoria KP says:

    That was so powerful and you did a great job writing from a man's perspective.

  33. Andrea (ace1028) says:

    Well crap. I should not have read this before bed. Damn. That was some excellent writing. Really great stuff. Moving. Powerful. Sad. And I want more. Damn. 😉

  34. YAy!! I've missed you and your fiction. And like you told me, that ending? Wow. Powerful. The images you brought to mind during reading, gripping. I love me some Natalie Fiction.

  35. Wow. That was awesome. I got a couple of tears in my eye over it. Please don't tell anyone about the tears. I have a reputation…

  36. Sluiter Nation says:

    Whoa. So powerful! You write really well from a man's voice. Very impressive!

    and the last couple lines? ouch. They were the best.